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Birmingham residents voice flooding concerns to city leaders during town hall

Complaints over flooding in Birmingham
Complaints over flooding in Birmingham
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 8:13 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Many people voiced their concerns about flooding issues in their neighborhoods to Birmingham leaders during a town hall at the Boutwell Auditorium Thursday evening.

The city has seen its fair share of flooding in recent weeks especially in the downtown area. Mayor Randall Woodfin and other city leaders say they are working to address some of those issues including problems in other neighborhoods.

Hooper City’s neighborhood president says Woodfin promised him four years ago he would address the flooding issues, but Rev. Anthony Douglas says so far, nothing has happened.

“We have on Daniel Payne new buildings going up. The inlets are flooded like crazy. My problem is they keep saying what they’re going to do and here we are four years later and there’s no change,” Douglas said.

Mayor Woodfin telling Douglas and other neighborhoods that these issues didn’t happen overnight and that it takes time and in some cases a lot of money to fix them.

“This is an issue that we won’t be able to fix or repair overnight. These issues didn’t start yesterday and so as much I can, I’m going to ask that you be patient with us as we work through this,” Woodfin said.

Heavy rains in March flooded parts of the historic Virginia Samford Theatre on 26th Street South. Flooding destroyed their downstairs offices with six feet of water. Costumes and pretty much everything needed to put on a production were destroyed as well. When the area received heavy rain, the nearby Caldwell Park fills up quickly then sends the water flowing over the park and directly into onto the theatre’s property.

Kathy Gilmore, the theatre’s executive director is optimistic and hoping the city can find solutions.

“We’re talking about a lot of money to fix the drainage in Caldwell park. It’s like a bowl. So I’m hopeful though,” Gilmore said.

The city’s engineer says a study is being conducted on how to fix the situation.

“What they are studying is a better way to collect that water within the park. Slow it down a little bit within the park and get it into the pipes within the 26th street and on down,” Michael Eddington, Birmingham’s city engineer said.

The city has 27,000 inlets that it has to maintain and city leaders admit they don’t have the manpower to keep a check on all of them right now.

The city has compiled a list of 100 drainage repair needs and complaints totaling about $32 million. The city is hoping to receive some money from the infrastructure bill to address some of the problems.

We’re told the city receives 327 storm requests per month. On average, the city receives 16 calls per day for response.

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